Elderberries are a wild berry that you can’t often find in supermarkets. When you come across them, snap them up so you can capture their unique flavor and health benefits. This simple elderberry jelly recipe will do just that.
Where to find elderberries
These berries grow wild in large regions of American east of the Rocky Mountains. While it can be tempting to forage for these wild berries it’s best to leave this task to experts as elderberries can cause stomach irritation when underripe.
Because of their delicate nature, elderberries aren’t often carried in grocery stores. Your best bet to find this antioxidant-packed berry is at your local farmers market or agricultural co-op (but don’t bring this one thing with you when you go!). If the farmers don’t have berries on hand you can ask for recommendations on how you might get access to them or when they will be in season. These are our favorite wild berries from around the country, worth making a trip to taste!
Use them up fast!
Elderberries have a bright, earthy sweet-tart flavor when they are perfectly ripe. When you have fresh ones use them quickly in recipes like this healthy tea or this easy crisp with rhubarb. Once you’ve baked your heart out use the rest of your berries in this jelly recipe to keep enjoying their ripe flavor for months to come.
How to Make Elderberry Jelly
- 3 cups elderberry juice (from about 3 pounds of elderberries)
- 3 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice (tips for easy juicing)
- Pectin (use the proportions on the box of your favorite brand)
- ½ teaspoon unsalted butter
- 4 ¾ cups sugar
Step 1: Prepare jars for canning
Wash five half-pint jars, bands and lids. Place the jars in a water-bath canner, fill the canner three-quarters with water and heat until boiling.
Pour hot water into a bowl; add the jar lids and screw bands.
Step 2: Juice the berries
In a large saucepan over medium heat, warm berries (with stems removed) and crush them thoroughly. Stir occasionally until the juice and berries reach a boil. Then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
Place a fine mesh strainer over a large bowl. Pour mixture into the strainer lightly press berries to get all of the juice out of them; discard berries in a sieve.
Step 3: Make the jelly
Measure 3 cups of juice from the bowl and place it in a large sauce pot. Add lemon juice. Place over medium heat and add pectin. As the mixture comes to a boil, it will foam. Add butter to reduce foaming of the mixture. Then turn heat to high until it is at a rolling boil.
Once mixture continues to boil even when stirred, start to add the sugar. While stirring constantly add sugar two cups at a time. Continue stirring until mixture returns to a boil, boil for exactly one minute. Remove from heat.
Step 4: Can it!
Carefully remove the jars, lids and screw bands to a wire rack and pat dry. With a plastic ladle and canning funnel, fill the jars with the hot jelly mixture, leaving a half-inch of headspace. Wipe the jar rims to remove any drips. Top with lids; screw on bands. Process the bars in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes. Water level should cover the jars by at least one and a half inches. Add more boiling water if necessary.
Allow jars to cool completely at room temperature on a trivet or towel, about 24 hours. You’ll know their seals are tight when the lids start to pop.
Test Kitchen tip: If you have extra jelly or a jar didn’t seal properly, stash it in the fridge and eat it first! It’ll last for months there. On the shelf, sealed jars will last a year.
Use elderberry jelly on anything from breakfast to dessert. I love it on toast and on a cracker with goat cheese.